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Can Meditation Treat Insomnia in Seniors?

By Dian Brannen, 8:00 am on

Whether your senior loved one is battling depression or taking medications that make it difficult to sleep, insomnia, a common problem among the aging population, can greatly disrupt quality of life. Not being able to fall or stay asleep can deplete a senior’s daytime energy while also compromising the immune system. Because sleep medications can threaten senior safety, many older adults are exploring the possible benefits of natural sleep aids such as meditation.

Meditation and Sleep

Meditation, from a medical standpoint, is considered a complementary treatment approach. The exercise’s deep breathing techniques combined with focused attention are known for calming effects on both the mind and body. Senior and elder care specialists have reported meditation is helpful for managing cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, but more studies are proving the practice can also improve sleep quality. By calming the mind, the body is more likely to follow suit.

Evidence

“Mindfulness meditation” seems to have the most evidence in terms of insomnia-fighting capabilities. This type of meditation works by focusing on the breath, or on a calming phrase. The idea is other thoughts will fall by the wayside, encouraging relaxation of the mind. According to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, older adults with insomnia sleep better when practicing meditation regularly than their non-meditating counterparts. The study found after six weeks of practice, meditation also decreased daytime fatigue as well as symptoms of depression.

Best Practices

Meditation may be practiced at any time of the day. If your loved one is feeling particularly anxious or depressed, you might encourage a few minutes of meditation for a sense of calmness. When considering nighttime sleeping troubles, meditation may be best practiced for at least five minutes before bed. As your loved one becomes comfortable with the practice, he or she might meditate for up to one hour at a time.

Allow some space for your loved one to relax by turning off outside noises and creating a dimly lit, comfortable space for meditation to take place. If you do not care for a senior loved one around-the-clock, a professional live-in caregiver can assist with a calming nighttime routine. Improved sleep may not happen right away—but with practice, meditation may just help your loved one fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

Quality of Life

At Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley, we take a holistic approach to care, known as the Balanced Care Method, to meet the physical, emotional, and cognitive needs of our clients, promoting overall health and quality of life. For more information about our hourly and live-in care plans, trained caregivers, or 100% satisfaction guarantee, call 484-350-3874.